Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Vegetarian Day

With all the 'fresh' food I have in the fridge/freezer, it is surprising how often I need to fetch something from the storecupboard to improve a dish. Small amounts maybe, but for this challenge I need to 'buy them from myself'. On Monday it was just the couscous - total 6p. Yesterday - to add to the Chilli con carne - I needed homecooked red beans (7p), chilli powder (4p), tomato puree (4p). For pudding there was a choice of ice-cream, or a trifle: 1 trifle sponge (5p), half a jelly (14p), custard powder (3p), sugar (2p), banana (5p), drizzle of sherry (5p) . Total 49p. The trifle was chosen.

Today will be vegetarian, and a dish that my husband likes anyway, so that's the easy part. Also, apart from flour and mustard, nothing else from the stores, as the pudding (ice-cream) has already been costed.

My dish of the day uses both cauliflower and broccoli hence the name:
Stilton and Brocciflower Cheese: serves 4
Half a small cauliflower, broken into florets
Similar amount of broccoli florets
for the sauce:
1 oz (25g) butter
2 tblsp plain flour
10 fl.oz (300ml) milk
1 tsp made or dry mustard
3oz (85g) stilton cheese + 1 os more
Steam the vegetables until tender. Meanwhile, make the sauce by putting all the ingredients into a pan, and heat gently, whisking all the time, until thickened. Simmer for two minutes.
Put the vegetables in a shallow ovenproof dish, season to taste with pepper, then top with the sauce then sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Grill for 5 - 10 minutes until bubbling and browned.
Tip: As Stilton is not in my budget, I will be using grated mature Cheddar and some Leicester Cheese and sprinkling some of the cheese over and round the steamed vegetables before topping with the sauce and the remaining cheese. Melting cheese round the hot florets makes them taste even better.

This alternative vegetarian dish uses ingredients only from the pre-costed foods (plus home-grown herbs). No further 'buy from stores' expenditure necessary:
Creamy Butternut and Herb Pasta: serves four
1 tblsp olive oil
1 oz (25g) butter
2 sprigs rosemary, sage or thyme
1 - 2 tomatoes, quartered
2 onions, cut into chunks
1/2 a butternut squash, peeled, deseeded
8 oz (250g) quick-cook pasta penne
250 tub of cream cheese
freshly grated parmesan
Cut the prepared squash into small chunks. Put the oil and butter in a pan with the chosen herbs and heat until the butter has melted. Put in the squash and toss to coat. Add the onions and roast at 180C for about half an hour, then add the tomatoes and cook for a further 1o minutes.
In the meantime, cook the pasta for required length of time, drain. Remove dish from oven, stir in the pasta and season to taste. Serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese.
Tip: Other vegetables which go well with this dish, and can be included using a lesser amount of squash, are red onions as well as the white, celery and mushrooms (but add the m'rooms towards the end of the cooking time).

Some weeks ago I gave you my favourite verson of the Sicilian Cassata. Here is a very similar dish, which can be assembled in much the same way, but quite different in flavour.
Tiramisu for You: 6 - 8 slices
Line a small loaf tin with cling film. Cut trifle sponges in half horizontally, then place a layer, sugared side down along the base. Sprinkle with the flavoured alcohol and place half the filling (see below for details of both) on the sponge. Sprinkle with grated chocolate and (optional) crushed macaroons (recipe given in a previous posting), top with more sponge and repeat, finishing with a layer of sponge. Wrap over the ends of the clingfilm, then press down with a weight and leave to chill overnight. Turn out, and served sliced.
This can be decorated by spreading creme fraiche or cream cheese over the top and sides and finishing off with chocolate curls.
filling and coffee flavour
Make about 2 fl. oz strong coffee and stir in a dessp. of Tia Maria, rum or brandy. This is used to sprinkle over the sponge layers.
For the filling, beat together a tub of cottage cheese with about half a tub of cream cheese plus 1 oz icing or caster sugar. Stir in a tablespoon of either whipped cream or creme fraiche. This completed dessert can be made a few weeks ahead of time and frozen.
Tip: ~This is much improved if you can add the crushed almond macaroons (I've given the recipe so why haven't you made any??) between the layers which will soak up more of the alcohol. In which case make extra.
To make chocolate curls, it helps if the choc. bar is at room temperature, or give it a couple of seconds in the microwave to soften only very slightly. Then draw a potato peeler or similar along the bar to make large curls and pile these on the top of the finished dessert.